Veracruz for foreigners: an introduction
Updated December, 2009
When we tell people that we go to Mexico often, they always ask "Cancun or Puerto Vallarta?" When we tell them "Veracruz"' they always ask, "Where is that?". The State of Veracruz is on the east coast of Mexico and is a long day's drive from McAllen or Laredo Texas. You then find yourself in the land where vanilla is grown, a land full of banana trees, beautiful beach, and a sub-tropical climate.
Why go to Veracruz?
As the foreign part of the Hughson family, Dean will tell you that this is the Mexico of the old days, where living is still economical for visitors. It is fun to be in a beach town where you are the only foreigner and enjoy the same type of vacations as many families from Mexico City.
An additional site not to be missed in this area is El Tajin, the ancient ruins of the Totonacas Indians and home of the Voladores, Mexico's flyers who jump from a tall pole and are suspended by ropes as they twirl to the ground accompanied by ancient music performed by one of the members standing on the top of the tower. We also recommend people take a look at Papantla because it is a town where you can see native people dressed in the traditional white loose fitting garments and it is a town famous for brujas (witches). Papantla has a beautiful square in the middle of town where you can sit and watch the busy life of a village in the shade and enjoy the sights and sounds and smells of Mexico. There are some hotels if you choose to stay in the town for a night.
In my wife's hometown of Ciudad Zamora,Veracruz, we like to sit and watch the young people circle the square on Sunday evenings flirting and joking with each other. It is possible to sit and eat roasted corn, carnitas (roasted pork), and many other tasty foods of the region. One can truly see the beauty of the culture when you are in the squares of the towns — the life blood of the towns' day to day life. It makes you wish that U.S. and Canadian cities had the same vision of providing a place for people to meet and socialize in the same style.
The Port of Veracruz is an additional treat in the State. When you hear the music and experience the food there you may think you are in Brazil or Trinidad instead of Mexico — this Caribbean-like town also has the Naval Academy of Mexico so you see sailors not only from Mexico but from many other countries who are visiting. It is possible to find excellent affordable food on the ocean and to have a great time, as have we, watching the sailors march around with a band and seeing ships up close. In addition Veracruz is famous for street performers with steel drums and dance halls where people do dances which remind me of the '30s and 40s in the U.S.
Dean has been going to Mexico for nearly 30 years and has traveled all over Mexico, along with Yoly. He thinks that Veracruz typifies the Mexico that many travelers have raved about for years — friendly people, good food, lovely views, and yet the advantage of being different from the average American or Canadian cities. Many others are also finding it an affordable place to retire to and spend their winters. The area between GCiudad Zamora and Veracruz is called the Emerald Coast by some and hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants are available. It should also be noted that excellent medical care is available in the area due to the medical and dental universities in Mexico and the health IMSS system which provides medical care, even in the smallest of areas.
Whatever your reasons for traveling to Mexico we urge you to consider Veracruz. It's one of the most beautiful of Mexico's states. You, too, can be one of the few who know this area and have enjoyed the charm of good food, history and nice people.